Sunday, November 16, 2014

2 Important Sources of Financial Aid for Students from Nigeria

By Megha Roy
Research Assistant, World Education Services

If you’re an international student looking to study in the U.S., you should know that there are many sources of funding available to you – you just need to look for them in the right place. Studying abroad is an expensive affair especially in the U.S. The total cost of attending a school includes accommodation, food expenses, travel costs, health insurance, textbooks and other costs along with tuition fees. Stack them together and the total cost can add up very quickly depending on the institute, major, and location.

Here are a few important sources that may be able to fund your college education in the U.S.:

#1. Your home country, Nigeria: Your home country can prove to be a great source of funding for your international studies. They may be based on the level of study (Undergraduate, Masters, or PhD) or the field of study. Some scholarships may be full tuition awards while others are partial funds with varied benefits that may include transport fare, housing, or a monthly stipend.

Many of these scholarships are targeted towards key labor markets in Nigeria which require talented graduates. For example, engineering is a popular field as it relates to chemical and petroleum technologies. It is estimated that there are about 50,000 scholarships a year for Nigerian students looking to study abroad, some at the federal level and some at the regional/state level – especially in oil-rich Nigerian states. You can take a look at Education USA Advising Center (EAC), a website which provides quality and unbiased information about all of the accredited higher education institutions in the U.S. for prospective students who wish to study in the U.S.

However, we strongly recommend absolute thoroughness when it comes to researching funding options. That way you can understand all the stipulations involved in the process and be fully prepared with backup plans. Keep in mind that several of these opportunities require their scholarship recipients to return to their home country upon graduation.

#2 U.S. Organizations and Universities: Generally speaking, financial aid is mostly available for international students pursuing a graduate degree in the United States than an undergraduate degree. However, some schools do offer financial aid for undergraduate international students as well. The International Institute of Education has compiled a list of college and institutions that offer scholarships at all levels for Nigerian students. Princeton, Harvard, and Yale are a few of the six schools nationwide that doesn't limit the financial aid available to international students. Admission is offered to students regardless of their financial background, and all the needs of every admitted student are met regardless of being an international student or a U.S. citizen. This is called need-blind admission and it meets the financial needs for all admitted students with a financial aid package consisting of need-based scholarships, term-time employment, and a student income contribution.

Out of some financial aids provided by organizations, the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is a $500 million, 10 year education initiative that will provide talented, yet economically disadvantaged students from developing countries (particularly from Africa) with comprehensive support for secondary and university education. The scholarship will be offered to 15,000 African Students at the secondary and university level. 
As an international student you can also be eligible for private international student loans to study in the United States—as long as you attend an approved school and have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosign for you.

Financial aid also includes an on-campus job and university grants. As international students on student visas, you are not allowed to work in off-campus jobs, but some schools do offer guaranteed college employment for international students who have financial need. Guaranteed employment to work on campus means it’s part of the financial aid package and students have an on-campus employment confirmed before arrival. You should contact university financial aid offices to learn more about guaranteed employment opportunities. If your school doesn’t offer guaranteed employment before arrival, ask the financial aid office about available jobs that you should apply to once you are on campus.

To wrap it up…

Some colleges offer numerous scholarship programs for international students while others have very limited aid for internationals. Some offer merit aid and others are need-based only. It can vary widely from campus to campus, so make sure to check the financial aid and international student sections of college websites for specific information about each college in which you have interest. Write e-mails. Ask questions.

We only listed a few options, but there are many more scholarship options available from the U.S. and your home country depending on your field of study. For reliable financial aid information, visit the U.S Department of State website. We recommend you do your search online and check the provider’s website for current information.

Finally, the most important thing is to be flexible about where you are willing to study. There are more than 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. and there are many smaller institutions that have reserved scholarship grants for international students. Explore all the options, and you will be able to find an institute that can offer you a great education at a price that is affordable for you.

Megha Roy is a Research Assistant for WES Research & Advisory Services team at World Education Services. Megha specializes in marketing research and has several years of brand management experience in media and publishing Industry. Megha earned her master’s degree in marketing intelligence from the Graduate School of Business Administration at Fordham University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics with honors from Delhi University, India.

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